As part of his Masters, Lauren Guy had attempted to locate water under Mars’s surface. Later in life, he would take his water locating skills from the red planet and apply them here, on earth. He developed a system that harnesses satellites to spot underground leaks in water supplies around the world.

Analyzing microwaves to locate leaks

Founded by Guy in 2013, Israeli startup Utilis provides relevant authorities with insight regarding subterranean water flow, like sewers, subterranean reservoirs, underground leaks, and other. Utilis’ technology uses SAR (or Synthetic-aperture radar) sensors on board contracted satellites to filter out the signature of drinking water and locate likely leaks.

Utilis receive data from the companies operating the satellites, then run the SAR analysis in combination with the company’s proprietary algorithm to locate all water leaks in areas defined by their customers’ needs.

While chatting with Geektime, Utilis CTO Lauren Guy explained the advantage in the company’s product: “Microwaves have the power to penetrate the atmosphere, asphalt, and even down into the earth a few dozen feet. Additionally, microwaves contain unique information which we can decipher.” According to Guy, despite most of the company’s activity taking place in insanely loud urban areas - The Utilis system knows how to filter out the noise and locate specific phenomenon, based on the customers’ request.

Guy notes that “Utilis’s uniqueness comes from the fact that we don’t need sensors on the ground. This sets us up for accelerated growth, enabling us to offer customers around the globe a quick response solution, not dependent on lengthy software installation or endless historical analysis,” added Guy.

The Utilis team credit: Utilis

What did you carry over to Utilis from the water search on Mars mission?

Guy: “I brought knowledge that is usually rare to find in the commercial world. Most geophysics graduates and radar experts naturally gravitate towards security or space industries. It’s very rare, when a graduate decides to tackle “real world” problems, with the use of his extensive expertise. Bringing a ‘space-based’ solution to the grey corporate water realm fertilized the ground for growth.”

According to Guy, the company’s market offers no competitors that meet Utilis’s technological superiority - the main competitor uses ground sensors to find water. He added that the physical sensors are at a complete disadvantage in comparison to the Utilis microwave analysis when locating leaks - both in efficiency and in costs.

Utilis was founded in 2013 by Guy, the CTO. Utilis currently employs a team of 40 split between offices in Israel, UK, and the U.S. The company secured $6 million in funding from Beringea. The funding will be used to accelerate the growth of its data-driven analytics which enables detection of water leaks and infrastructure asset management, reflecting the rising focus on resource preservation around the world during the climate crisis.